Remember Wilmer Flores? He was kind of a big deal in the Mets’ minor league system for what felt like an eternity before finally debuting in 2013. After being leapfrogged by other prospects and removed from top-100 prospect lists, Wilmer Flores celebrated his 22nd birthday by playing his first major league game on August 6, 2013.
A three-time Baseball America top-100 prospect, Wilmer’s first 101 major league plate appearances left a lot to be desired. He hit .211/.248/.295 while primarily filling in for an injured David Wright at third base. Flores also played two games at second base.
Although they came in the context of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Flores's numbers during his first taste of Triple-A were far more impressive: .321/.357/.531 with 15 home runs in 463 plate appearances. The prospect who once drew comparisons to Miguel Cabrera might have lost some of that shine, but Flores might still have a lot to offer.
Even though youth has been one of Wilmer’s greatest traits for years, he still has time on his side; he won’t be 23 until August. The results might not be there yet after a sub-par cup of coffee in the majors, but it’s not worth getting worked up over only 101 plate appearances. Additionally, even with poor early results, Flores’s bat still rates out nicely, and might even profile well at first base.
However, that leads to one of the biggest problems plaguing Flores: Where do the Mets play him? Originally a shortstop, the Mets moved Flores off the position when his defense proved inadequate. He has since played third base, second base, and first base in the minors. Poor foot speed and athleticism makes him a poor defender at almost any position, and has seemingly ruled him out for playing the outfield.
While some believe his bat might be good enough for first base, the Mets seem to prefer an outside option or whoever remains between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, perhaps removing that as a possible landing spot. As of now, Daniel Murphy and David Wright occupy his other two possible positions. Shortstop appears out of the question.
So Flores remains a young, former top prospect (he hasn’t cracked Baseball America’s top-100 since 2011) with the potential to have a solid to plus bat depending on where he ends up playing in the field. Second base might be the best bet to extract the most value out of him, if the Mets decide to trade Murphy. That does not appear likely anymore, although there’s still time left in the offseason for that to change.
Barring a trade, Flores could be the odd man out of the Mets’ infield. His name hasn’t come up as a possible option at first base or shortstop, despite the Mets limited options at either position. Flores might find himself back in Las Vegas to get some playing time, or with another organization altogether. If the Mets have soured on his potential, he could serve as a super-utility player, maybe picking up 350+ plate appearances while playing all around the diamond. His value in a trade is anyone’s guess: Will teams look at him as a top prospect? Or will teams see him as a lottery ticket not fit to anchor a potential trade package? If Alderson does have a big trade up his sleeve, Flores might be one of the chips he uses.
Desired 2014 role: Flores is a tough guy to peg. As the roster stands now, he appears to be the odd man out. If no other moves are made, Flores might be most valuable to the Mets in a trade that gets them a young shortstop. However, if Daniel Murphy is traded, second bases should be Flores’s job to lose. He might lack the power and patience to profile well at first.
Expected 2014 role: Sandy has shown he won’t trade anyone for pennies on the dollar. If Flores doesn’t net the Mets a decent young player, Alderson could chose to have him start the year in Las Vegas as a second baseman, or with the Mets as a super utility player.